Don’t push that button! Tips for reducing spam complaints

The New York Times recently published an article on the love-hate relationship we have with complaining. While it seems quite a few of us love to air our grievances, listening to someone else gripe is another matter. As marketers, though, we need to pay attention to complaints, especially those of the spam variety. Too many spam complaints can hurt your sender reputation and divert your communications (and hard work!) into junk folders.

You might think your subscribers would never mark your communications as spam. After all, they requested them. Unfortunately, people still use the report spam button for email they opted into. Let’s look at the reasons why and what you can do to ensure your subscribers still love you.



It should be straightforward, but don’t use “info,” “sales,” “newsletter,” or “marketing” as your sender name. Instead, choose something people are familiar with like your company name or brand. You can help drive the recognition factor by sending a welcome message immediately after someone signs up. This will give you an opportunity to show subscribers what your communications look like while you’re still fresh on their minds. Consider including links or screenshots of past emails on your confirmation page to further your efforts.

Since the top left portion of the email is most likely to be the first thing people see include a logo or other design elements. Branded subject lines and preheaders will also help the reader recall who you are.



About a month ago, two of us from Team Fresh signed up for emails from a beloved fashion retailer. We had big, silly crushes on this retailer. Sadly, the bloom is off the rose. What began with one ‘welcome campaign’ quickly morphed into three emails a day pushing us to BUY NOW! BUY MORE! It was exhausting and more than a little disappointing. Both of us revoked our permission (the polite thing to do!), but we could have just as easily hit the report spam button.

Set frequency expectations in your sign-up copy so subscribers don’t get any unwelcome surprises. Also, offer subscribers the opportunity to opt-down; you can even mention this in your email footer. It’s better to send fewer emails than lose your subscriber… or worse!



It’s important to strike a balance between over- and under-exposure. Don’t wait days, weeks, or months before sending the first email, as large gaps between communication will only help people to forget they even signed-up. Another option: add a “permission reminder” to messages. This is a short piece of text explaining why they’re getting your emails. Here’s an example from Google:

Permission reminder



It almost goes without saying: nurture, nurture, nurture. Supplement your sales with content expressly created to engage your loyal customers. Once you’ve attracted your dream prospects, give them reasons to keep them coming back for more. Remember: the days of push marketing are over.  It’s just as critical to understand and respect the customer relationship phases and how they affect interaction. If you want great ROI, build a great relationship.  Treat your subscribers as people and they’ll be less inclined to flag you for spam.



Sometimes there’s little you can do about a spam complaint. Maybe it’s your new logo. Perhaps it’s your new parking structure. Maybe it’s the color, language, or design of your emails.  The wider experience people have with your brands and business affects how they feel about… well, everything, including the way you communicate with them.



It’s a fact: for some subscribers a spam complaint is just another way of unsubscribing. If your unsubscribe process is complicated or buried somewhere in your emails, your chances of a level-headed good-bye are less likely. Do yourself and your sending reputation a favor and make the unsubscribe process as painless as possible.

Do you have any tips to reducing spam complaints? Reach out! We’d love to hear from you.

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